HELLE THORNING-SCHMIDT (Danish pronunciation: ; born 14 December
1966) is a former Danish politician who was Prime Minister of Denmark
from 2011 to 2015, and the Leader of the Social Democrats from 2005 to
2015. She is the first woman to hold either post. Following defeat in
2015 , she announced that she would step down as both Danish Prime
Minister and Social Democratic party leader. Ending her political
career in April 2016, she is the chief executive of the
NGO Save the
Thorning-Schmidt served as a
Member of the European Parliament for
Denmark from 1999 to 2004 before being elected to the Danish
Parliament in 2005. She was elected to replace
Mogens Lykketoft as
Leader of the Social Democrats after the 2005 parliamentary election ,
leading her party through the 2007 parliamentary election , which was
won by the centre-right alliance, and the 2011 parliamentary election
, after which she was appointed Prime Minister by
Queen Margrethe II .
Thorning-Schmidt holds degrees in political science from the
Copenhagen and a graduate degree from the College of
* 1 Early life and education
* 2 Early career in the
* 3 Member of the
* 3.1 Leader of the Social Democrats
* 3.2 Appointment as Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Denmark
* 4.1 First Cabinet
* 4.2 Second Cabinet
* 5 Electoral history
* 6 Life after politics
* 7 Personal life
* 7.1 Religious beliefs
* 7.2 Tax affairs
* 8 References
* 9 External links
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
Helle Thorning-Schmidt was born in
Rødovre to Holger
Thorning-Schmidt, a lecturer in mathematics and national economics at
the University of
Copenhagen , and his wife Grete. Her father was
politically conservative and she grew up in the
Copenhagen suburb of
Ishøj . She attended
Ishøj Gymnasium from which she graduated in
1985. Her parents divorced when she was 10 years old.
Thorning-Schmidt studied political science at University of
Copenhagen , earning a cand.scient.pol. degree in 1994. She also holds
a master's degree in
European studies specialising in policy and
public administration from the
College of Europe
College of Europe in
where she studied from 1992 to 1993 (she is an alumna of the Charles
IV promotion ). At the time,
Denmark had a quota administered by the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of one student at this prestigious
institution, and Thorning-Schmidt was selected. In addition to her
native Danish , she speaks fluent English and French .
She became a social democrat during her studies in
Belgium and joined
the Social Democratic Party in 1993.
EARLY CAREER IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
From 1994 to 1997, Thorning-Schmidt led the secretariat of the Danish
delegation of Social Democrats in the
European Parliament . After her
Brussels she worked as an international consultant with the
Danish Confederation of Trade Unions until being elected MEP in 1999 .
Thorning-Schmidt was elected to the
European Parliament as a member
Party of European Socialists . During the five-year term, she
was a member of the Employment and Social Committee and served as a
substitute on the Constitutional Committee . She co-founded the
Campaign for Parliament Reform (CPR).
MEMBER OF THE FOLKETING
2005 Danish parliamentary election Thorning-Schmidt was
elected to the
LEADER OF THE SOCIAL DEMOCRATS
Thorning-Schmidt in 2008, as leader of the opposition
After the defeat in the 2005 election , in which the Social Democrats
lost five seats and failed to regain the majority it had lost in the
2001 election , former Minister of Finance and party leader Mogens
Lykketoft resigned his post, taking responsibility for the poor
election results. In his speech of resignation on election night, 8
February 2005, he called for a leadership election in order to
determine who should lead the party into the next election.
Thorning-Schmidt campaigned for the party leadership as a moderate
candidate and was elected by the party members on 12 April 2005, ahead
of the other candidate,
Frank Jensen . She led the Social Democrats in
the 2007 election, in which her party suffered modest losses and was
forced into a third term in opposition. The party was also unable to
regain its position as the largest party in the
She was against holding a referendum on the European Reform Treaty .
During her 2007 campaign she promised to relax restrictions on asylum
seekers and immigrants. She also opposed tax cuts announced by Anders
Fogh Rasmussen , instead stating she would like to see more funding
for welfare. The party also campaigned on a platform of combating
increased inequalities in society, and fighting global warming by
supplying 45% of Denmark's energy from renewable sources by 2025.
Although her party again lost two seats in the 2007 election reducing
the total to 45 seats, her leadership was not questioned by her party.
In June 2008, according to a Gallup poll, the opposition centre-left
was at 49.8% compared to 49.6% for the centre-right. This would leave
the centre-left with 88 seats, two short of a majority, discounting
Faroe Island and
Greenland seats. Since late 2009 the opposition
enjoyed large majorities in the polls, and according to polls carried
out in January 2011 the opposition led the governing coalition under
Lars Løkke Rasmussen
Lars Løkke Rasmussen by 5–7 points and the Social Democrats led
Venstre by 7–10 points which would make the Social Democrats the
largest party by far in the
Folketing . Helle Thorning-Schmidt,
Margrethe Vestager (Social Liberal Party ) and Villy Søvndal
(Socialist People\'s Party ) have pledged their support to
Thorning-Schmidt after a potential election victory. After the last
Helle Thorning-Schmidt started working towards forming a
centre-left government coalition consisting of the Socialist People\'s
Party and the Social Liberal Party with parliamentary support from the
small Red-Green Alliance . As the leader of the largest opposition
party in Denmark, she was described by the media as the leader of the
APPOINTMENT AS PRIME MINISTER
Danish parliamentary election, 2011
In the 2011 parliamentary election , she was re-elected to
parliament. Although the ruling Liberal Party became the largest party
and gained a seat and the Social Democrats lost a seat, the opposition
parties combined obtained more seats than the government coalition.
Her four-party bloc gained a majority of 89 seats in the 179-seat
parliament against 86 for the sitting Prime Minister and his
center-right parliamentary supporters. Prime Minister Lars Løkke
Rasmussen formally tendered his resignation to Queen Margrethe on 16
September 2011. Rasmussen's cabinet remained in office as a caretaker
government until 3 October, when
Helle Thorning-Schmidt was
appointed Prime Minister by the Queen following negotiations with the
other opposition parties.
PRIME MINISTER OF DENMARK
The first Cabinet presented at
Cabinet of Helle Thorning-Schmidt I
Cabinet of Helle Thorning-Schmidt I
Helle Thorning-Schmidt officially began her first term as Prime
Minister on 3 October 2011, after having presented her cabinet to the
Queen and having received her official appointment. Thorning-Schmidt
has pursued a centrist compromise agenda, building several reforms
with support from both sides of the Folketing. This has caused
friction with the supporting Red-Green Alliance, which has been kept
outside of influence.
Thorning-Schmidt presided over the successful conclusion of
strike missions in
Libya , to which
Denmark was a contributor, less
than three weeks after taking office.
During the first year in office her government rolled back
anti-immigration legislation enacted by the previous government, and
passed a tax-reform with support from the liberal-conservative
opposition. The tax reform raised the top tax threshold, effectively
lowering tax rates for high income earners. The aim of the tax reform
has been to increase labour output to fend off a projected shortage
within the next decades. The stated goal is to entice Danes to work
more in order to compensate for the decreasing workforce, by lowering
tax on wages and gradually lowering welfare payments to those outside
of the labour market to increase the economic benefit of working
relative to receiving welfare.
On 9 August and 12 December 2013, amid tensions between coalition
partners, Thorning-Schmidt made cabinet reshuffles .
Cabinet of Helle Thorning-Schmidt II
Cabinet of Helle Thorning-Schmidt II
Thorning-Schmidt with heads of government from the
On 30 January 2014, the Socialist People's Party announced their
departure from Thorning-Schmidt's government due to a conflict over
the proposed sale of
DONG Energy shares to
Goldman Sachs . Before
departure, they also announced they will support Thorning-Schmidt
although not being a part of her government.
Thorning-Schmidt led her party into the 2015 general election in
which her party increased its share of votes and seats, but the left
bloc was defeated by the right bloc. She announced her resignation as
Prime Minister of Denmark and as leader of the Social Democrats after
the election results became clear.
Thorning has been leader of the Social Democrats through seven
CHANGE IN %
CHANGE IN SEATS
LIFE AFTER POLITICS
Since her retirement from Danish politics, Thorning-Schmidt has been
serving as CEO of
Save the Children (since 2016). In addition, she has
held several paid and unpaid positions, including:
* International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity
Gordon Brown ), Member (since 2015)
United Nations High-level Advisory Group for Every Woman Every
Child, Member (since 2016)
International Crisis Group , Member of the Board of Trustees
* Scaling Up Nutrition Movement, Member of the Lead Group (since
2016, appointed by
United Nations Secretary-General
United Nations Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon )
European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), Member
Center for Global Development , Member of the European Advisory
* Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship , Member of the
Stephen Kinnock (who became a British MP in 2015) in
1996, so becoming the daughter-in-law of
Neil Kinnock , former leader
of the British Labour Party and European Commissioner, and Glenys
Kinnock , former British Minister for Europe. She met her husband
while they were both attending the
College of Europe
College of Europe . They have two
daughters, Johanna and Camilla. Helle lives in
Copenhagen with their
children, while her husband partly resided in
where he worked as a director for the
World Economic Forum
World Economic Forum . In 2014
he worked for
London -based Xyntéo as managing director for the
"Global Leadership and Technology Exchange", but he was elected
Member of Parliament (MP) for Aberavon at the
United Kingdom general
election, 2015 .
Having lost the Danish general election of 2015, she stepped down as
Prime Minister and as leader of the Social Democratic Party. It was
announced that Thorning-Schmidt would become her party's member of the
Presidium of the
Folketing and she currently serves as the Presidium's
1st Vice-President. On 4 September 2015, Prime Minister Lars Løkke
Rasmussen announced that the Danish government has nominated
Thorning-Schmidt as Denmark’s official candidate to the position as
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees .
Although Thorning-Schmidt has been baptized , she is not confirmed .
She occasionally goes to church and does not believe in eternal life ,
salvation , heaven , or hell .
The Danish tax authorities (SKAT) investigated reports that
Thorning-Schmidt's husband, Stephen Kinnock, was guilty of tax evasion
. Kinnock had declared that he was not a resident of
Denmark and thus
not subject to Danish taxes, while at the same time Thorning-Schmidt
had declared, in an application for dispensation for Kinnock to own
property in Denmark, that he resided in
Denmark "every weekend of the
year from Friday through to Monday". Thorning-Schmidt attributed the
discrepancy to a "big and sloppy error". On 16 September 2010, Danish
tax authorities acquitted the couple and the charges of tax evasion
A week before the 15 September 2011 elections to the Danish
Parliament, the 2010 decision from SKAT (the taxation department)
surfaced in the Danish tabloid B.T. The case had been leaked to the
newspaper several months previously. It turned out that from 2000 to
2008 Thorning-Schmidt had made use of tax deductions applicable to her
husband, even though he was not subject to Danish taxes and had no
income in Denmark. The mistake was corrected by SKAT for the three
years from 2006 to 2008, and Thorning-Schmidt paid the amount she had
saved due to the error. She was however not required to pay the
amounts saved for the six years from 2000 to 2005, because of the
statutory time limit for liability in such cases.
In November 2011 the daily
Politiken disclosed that Tax Ministry
deputy chief Peter Loft had attended several meetings attending to the
Thorning-Schmidt case and had tried to insert comments into the final
resolution text. This would be unlawful under Danish law as the Tax
Ministry may not interfere with the decisions taken in individual tax
cases. This set off a flurry of speculation in the press, as to
whether there had been any political pressure from the then government
to pursue a stricter course in the tax case. Tax Minister in the new
government Thor Möger Pedersen subsequently asked Peter Loft and the
director of the revenue service's
Copenhagen branch, Erling Andersen,
to give a report on the happenings. On 2 December, Pedersen disclosed
that he had found such big discrepancies in the two reports that he
would set up a commission of inquiry to determine the actual course of
Further controversy erupted when two days later the tabloid daily,
Ekstra Bladet , reported that they had also been offered the
confidential information that was made public during the election
campaign. The source of the leak was determined to be Peter Arnfeldt,
spin doctor for then Minister for Taxation
Troels Lund Poulsen . This
led to intense media speculation that the former government, and
specifically Troels Lund Poulsen, were engaged in leaking confidential
tax information and trying to pressure the revenue service into
changing its decision in the case, in an active attempt to discredit
the opposition leader in the then imminent election. This would
constitute a hitherto unseen level of abuse of power in Danish
political life. The commission of inquiry that had already been
announced two days previously, was broadly supported by the Danish
Parliament to also look into whether the former government was
involved in, or knew of, the leak. On the same day Troels Lund
Poulsen announced he would be taking an indefinite leave of absence
from the Danish Parliament. Peter Arnfeldt has been reported to the
police by the Ministry for Taxation. In March 2012 Peter Loft was
suspended from his post as deputy chief, for the duration of the
two-year investigation period.
In December 2013, Thorning-Schmidt, British Prime Minister David
Cameron and US President
Barack Obama faced criticism on social media
that they had behaved inappropriately after posing for a "selfie "
taken with Thorning-Schmidt's mobile phone during the memorial service
for the former South African President
Nelson Mandela . Defending
her actions, Thorning-Schmidt said, "There were lots of pictures taken
that day, and I just thought it was a bit fun. Maybe it also shows
that when we meet heads of state and government, we too are just
people who have fun." Cameron said he was being polite when
Thorning-Schmidt asked him to take part in the picture. On a previous
occasion, Thorning-Schmidt had stopped her car to ask for a picture
with the actress
Sarah Jessica Parker after spotting her signing
autographs in Oslo.
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